The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.
Producing Film and Television
This module engages with the narrative histories of film and television, from their origins to the present day, a period involving many significant transitional moments in production histories. The module looks at the coming of sound, the rise and demise of the Hollywood studio system, and the emergence of the TV network system. It asks what transition means at different historical moments by raising questions such as: what are the industries producing at these moments, and how are cultural products marketed and distributed? The module also introduces historical method and the idea of historiography. It provides examples of different critical approaches to film and television history and interrogates the key debates around the periodisation of that history.
Consuming Film and Television
This module asks questions surrounding the consumption - viewing and listening, in public and private environments including theatres, homes and more - of film, television and other screen media. It addresses viewing contexts including public spaces such as cinemas, private spaces such as homes, and emerging hybrid spaces. To understand not only consumption environments but also media users, the module also investigates constructions of screen audiences, through historical as well as contemporary cases. You will complete the module with an understanding of how screen media offer components of experiences dependent on consumption environments and on audiences' attitudes, cultural backgrounds and other activities.
Reading Film and Television
This module introduces you to formal aspects of screen narratives and the language of textual analysis, enabling you to 'read' and illuminate film and television texts. It also sheds light on the people who work on the production of film/TV texts and some of the key features of their collaboration in areas such as directing, cinematography, editing, production design, sound design and performance.
This module supports first year students as they make the transition into degree level work. You will gain skills in independent and collaborative learning with the aid of guided and self-directed learning tasks and individual and group research projects. The module prepares the ground for subsequent research training and for the final year dissertation.
Canadian Literature, Film and Culture
An introduction to Canadian cultural studies, you’ll examine selected literary, film and visual texts from the 20th century. Topics studied will include Native culture, the emergence of cultural nationalism, popular culture, and Canada’s relationship to the U.S. You’ll spend around two hours per week in lectures and seminars, and two and a half hours per week in workshops, studying this module.
American History 1: 1607 – 1900
You will be provided with a broad introduction to the history of the United States of America, from its colonial origins, through revolution, civil war and industrialisation, to the end of the 19th century. You will spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American History 2: 1900-Present Day
You’ll examine the history of the United States in the 20th century, assessing changes and developments in the lives of the American people who have faced the challenges of prosperity, depression, war, liberal reform, political conservatism, minority protests, multicultural awareness, and international power. Around four hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American Literature and Culture 1: To 1945
An introductory survey of major texts, authors and developments in American literature. You will explore a range of forms (novels, short stories, autobiography and poetry) and issues (race, class, gender) as they have been dealt with by writers. Around four hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
American Literature 2: Since 1945
You’ll study a selection of American fiction, poetry and drama, exploring changes in literary form, the rise of women’s and ethnic literatures, and the relationship between literature and its social and political contexts. You’ll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
North American Regions
This module will deploy the concept of "region" and, more broadly, "place" to explore key North American texts - primarily drawn from the spheres of film, television and literature. The notion of the "regional" will be applied expansively as well as conventionally to incorporate everything from the urban to the suburban/exurban, border territories and the transnational. Possible areas of study may include the American West, the Pacific North-West, New York City, the black inner city "ghetto", "mountain" people and the Appalachians, Hispanic-America, first nations, French-Canada, Texas, Chicago, New Orleans, California, and the transnational impact of extensive US Military occupations (post-war Japan, South Vietnam, 21st-century Iraq).
North American Film and Television
This module examines the form and content of North American cinema and television in the 21st century and the forces and trends shaping the nature of American and Canadian films and television programmes. Topics for discussion will include the different film and broadcasting industries in the US and Canada, representation of the past in contemporary cinema and television, representations of technology, identity, gender, and race, and the Canada-US border. If you study this module you'll spend around two hours in lectures and seminars, and two and a half hours in film workshops, per week.
This module examines the history of American popular music in the 20th century, focusing on the major genres and exploring the artistic, cultural and political issues they raise. You will examine music's aesthetic qualities genre by genre, as well as key developments within the music industry, the ways in which commercial and technological changes have influenced the production and consumption of music, and the ways in which musicians and audiences use pop music to engage with American culture and society. You'll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars for this module.
The Contemporary American Novel
This module covers a representative sample of important literary fiction produced since 2000. It explores how writers have engaged with themes of race, class, gender, religion, labour and war, and the uses of historical revisionism, identity politics, and regionalism. The module covers a variety of narrative forms, genres and critical theories, from fictionalised life-writing and family sagas to speculative fiction and counter-historical narratives to transnational writing and war fiction. If you study this module, you'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
African American History and Culture
This module examines African American history and culture from slavery to the present through a series of case studies that highlight forms of cultural advocacy and resistance. Examples may include the persistence of African elements in slave culture, the emergence of new artistic forms in art, religion and music during the segregation era, and the range and complexity of African American engagement with US public culture since the 1960s across art, literature and popular culture. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.
This module will examine American radicals since the American Revolution. 19th-century subjects will include the abolitionists, early feminism, utopian socialism, anarchism, and farmer populism. 20th-century subjects will include the Socialist Party in the 1910s, the Communist Party and the anti-Stalinist left in the 1930s, opponents of the Cold War, the 1960s New Left, Black Power militancy, and recent radicalisms, including the gay liberation movement, women's liberation, and resistance to corporate globalization. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.
The US and the World in the American Century: US Foreign Policy (1898-2008)
This module examines how America's involvement abroad has changed over time from the war of 1898 to the 21st century. It analyses how traditional political and diplomatic issues, the link between foreign and domestic policies, and the role of foreign actors and private organisations - from religious groups to NGOs - have shaped America's actions abroad. It also explores the significance of race, gender, emotions, and religion in shaping US foreign policy. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.
American Violence: A History
This module analyses the patterns and prevalence of violence in the USA. It will consider theories about its origins in frontier settler societies, the relationship between violence and the gun control debate and the related issue of American ideological antipathy to state power. It will consider the celebration of violence as a source of conflict resolution and examine the US government's use of violence as an instrument of foreign policy. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.
Immigration and Ethnicity in the United States
This course examines the history of immigration to the United States from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. It traces the development of immigrant communities, cultures and identities from the 19th century to the present day. The module draws on historical, literary and cultural texts, with sources ranging from political cartoons, fiction and testimony to photography, documentary film, digital art and video performance. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.
A History of Crime and Punishment
This module explores the history of crime and punishment in the United States from the period of the US Civil War through to the post-World War II/Cold War years. It looks at the shift from public to 'private' punishments, including the early nineteenth century 'invention' of the penitentiary and development of 'modern' police and the emergence of distinct regional differences in rates of violent crime and official responses. You will spend three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
You'll learn about the concepts of ‘transnational’ and ‘postnational’ media, taking into account the movement and interactions of people, finance, technology and ideas around the world. The module addresses in particular global media interactions emerging from tensions between forces of cultural homogenisation and heterogenisation. You'll develop a foundation of theoretical knowledge to be applied to case studies in global film, television and other screen and print media.
Understanding Cultural Industries
You'll learn how show business is broken down into 'show' and 'business' in film, television and promotional industries and examine how creative decision-making, technology and legislation influence those industries. You'll also learn about how advertising and market research influence the design and production of media in certain regions and how film and television industries have developed in different contexts and periods.
Film and Television in Social and Cultural Context
During this year-long module you'll think about industries, audiences and surrounding debates from a social and cultural viewpoint. You'll learn about the way that social and cultural meaning is produced by film and television programmes and explore the social practices that surround the consumption of media, such as movie going and television viewing.
Researching Culture, Film and Media
For this year-long core module you'll spend two hours a week in lectures and workshops to become familiar with different methods for investigating research topics, including methods such as ethnographic, historical and textual study, and determining their suitability for different projects. You'll investigate the interdisciplinary nature of film, television and media studies and demonstrate this knowledge by choosing your own research project and methods.
Dissertation in American and Canadian Studies
You will undertake an in-depth study into a chosen subject within American and Canadian Studies and produce either a 5-7,000 word or a 10-12,000 word dissertation.
You'll explore the United States' experiment with Prohibition during the period 1918 to 1933, with particular focus on crime, disorder and policing. The rise of organised crime will be considered, along with gangsters and G-men, the expanding crime fighting role of the state, the federal crime crusade of the early 1930s and the inglorious end of Prohibition. You'll spend around four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Latino cultural expression will be examined, exploring genres, forms and sites involved in the production and consumption of Latino culture and its positioning within mainstream US society. You'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying this module.
Popular Music Cultures and Countercultures
You'll examine the role played by American popular music in countercultural movements, focusing on the ways in which subordinate groups have used popular music as a vehicle for self-definition. Considering key issues and moments in American popular music history, you'll cover topics such as the politics of folk-protest music, rock 'n' roll and desegregation in the 1950s, rock music and the 1960s counterculture, identity politics and music video, and hip hop as a culture of resistance. Around three hours per week will be spent in lectures and seminars studying this module.
Recent Queer Writing
Focusing on the representation of gender and sexuality, lesbian, gay, transgender and queer writing will be considered through the analysis of selected contemporary texts. Issues for discussion will include:
- constructions of masculinity and femininity
- representations of 'alternative' sexuality and lifestyles
- the relation of race, ethnicity, class
- nationality to issues of gender and sexual identity
Authors studied include:
- Timothy Findley
- Daphne Marlatt
- Dionne Brand
- Shani Mootoo
- Shyam Selvadurai
- Tomson Highway
- Ivan E Coyote
- Dorothy Allison
- Leslie Feinberg
If you choose this module you'll spend around three hours per week in seminars.
History of the Civil Rights Movement
The module studies the development of the African-American protest movement from the Second World War to the early 1970s. Students will consider the historiographical debates which surround this topic and will be introduced to a variety of source materials and methodological approaches. There will be a particular focus on photographs alongside other primary sources. You'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
American Madness: Mental Illness in History and Culture
This module explores how ideas about madness, insanity, and mental illness have changed from the mid-19th-century to the present. We will consider how and why medical authority, gender, and class have all impacted the way in which mental illness is understood, and consider the significance of changing approaches to treatment. Sources used on this interdisciplinary module range from medical accounts and psychiatric theory to memoir, fiction and film. You will spend three hours per week studying this module.
This module explores the main developments in North American drama from the late-18th century to the present day. It examines how different theatrical movements - melodrama, minstrelsy, the 'freak' show, expressionism, social realism, the musical - connect with major historical events such as the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression and the Cold War. The module includes practical workshops around the staging, acting, directing and promotion of specific plays. You will spend four hours per week studying this module.
In the Midst of Wars: The US and Vietnam
You'll consider American attitudes, perceptions and policies toward South East Asia from the Second World War until the end of the Vietnam War. Focus will be on the course of the Vietnam War, the role of different players (beyond the US) and the reasons that the US became involved. You'll also consider the wider scope of US policy in Asia during the period and the outlines of the wider Cold War. For this module, you'll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
The Civil War and Its Origins 1850-1865
You will consider the collapse of the American Republic in 1861, including events in the decade preceding it and at the course of the war that followed it. You will focus on the origins of the Civil War and the reasons for Union victory, spending around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Dissertation in Film and Television Studies
You will carry out a major individual research project based on issues and concepts investigated on the course so far as well as your own research interests. Your work will demonstrate your skill for primary research, critical argumentation and understanding of scholarly research. You will be supported by individual supervision, resources such as film databases, and workshops on research methods throughout the semester.
Film and Television Genres
You'll be introduced to the key concepts and theoretical work on specific film genres. Each year, the module investigates a particular genre or cycle such as action cinema, television drama, low-budget film productions and TV movies, and more. Combined with what you have learnt on previous modules, you will look at genre in the context of production and consumption, spending around five hours a week in workshops and seminars.
The module introduces students to the key critical concepts and theoretical work on film noir and examines the ways in which 'film noir' came to be applied to a group of 1940s and 1950s American films. The module treats film noir as an historical object of study and as a mode of categorisation referring to a specific historical phenomenon, situated in the US's social, cultural and political contexts. It also examines the cultural moment of the inception of the term by French critics who did much to shape the generic concept. The module also considers the industrial, cultural, social and political factors which had a bearing on noir production avant la lettre.
This module asks the deceptively simple question 'What is a blockbuster?' By considering a number of historical case studies, the module treats the phenomenon within a diverse range of contexts. Where does the term 'blockbuster' come from? To what type of films has it been applied? Are blockbusters a product of 'New Hollywood', or did they originate in the classical period? Why are blockbusters so successful, financially, culturally and emotionally? What social value may such films possess? What conditions are necessary for its success? To what extent is the blockbuster an 'international' form?
Screen Encounters: Audiences and Engagement
Through four hours a week studying in workshops and seminars, you'll gain an in-depth understanding of film and television audiences and why they watch media, taking into account the social, political and historical factors that shape audience experiences. The module also reconceptualises media users by exploring interactive media experiences such as videogames and smartphone apps. You'll also explore the role of marketing systems used to engage specific audiences and how this knowledge is applied in industry market research.
Video Production Project
This module combines the historical and theoretical knowledge you have gained with the practical task of video production. You'll investigate the ways that production activities contribute to videomaking through recording and editing techniques, and experience the many decisions that must be made through the production process. You'll spend time in media labs and in the field making a collaborative video production, alongside four hours a week in lectures and seminars.
The New Hollywood
You'll learn about key changes in Hollywood since the 1960s and develop critical thinking about the status and meaning of the 'New Hollywood' through comparisons with the so-called 'Old Hollywood' and 'New New Hollywood', attention to audience demographics, and study of evolving cinemagoing practices and cultural representations. You'll also consider industry marketing materials and film-review media to further your engagement with the subject, spending around four hours a week in seminars and workshops.
This module investigates critical concepts and theoretical work on cinema in global context, introducing students to critical and theoretical models surrounding global production, film texts, distribution and reception. Addressing ways films have been made and seen worldwide, the module locates aspects of global cinema within historical contexts of production and consumption. The module also seeks to untangle such overlapping categories as global cinema, transnational cinema and world cinema. Looking at a range of historical and contemporary cases, students will interrogate a body of films that both serve and challenge the interests of dominant institutions in their producing cultures.